This ride would be quite a ride of discovery, a ride in which I would see many new things, and accomplish many feats which I had promised myself over the years. Having crosed the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, it was my first time riding across Longueuil; and on the return trip, I would discover sections of Longueuil I did not even know existed. It was my first ride ever along the Chambly Corridor, which I had wanted to explore ever since I had first read about it and seen pictures of the spiral bridge. It would be the first time I had ever visited the park around Fort Chambly, or saw Fort and the dam and rapids just upstream. Long had I mused about how nice it would be to ride along the Richelieu River; this I would do for the first time. When I had glimpsed nearby Mont Sainte-Hilaire from the heights of Mont Saint-Bruno back in 1992, I had told myself that someday I would like to cycle on out there; I finally accomplished this. Finally, I discovered a whole new, diagonal route connecting the lower-Richelieu with the South Shore, a route which would serve me well later in summer.
I thank the Lord for his help and guidance in this, probably my second-longest cycling day, in terms of both time and distance (Surpassed only by my Burlington-to-Montreal "Century" day in 1993). I had gone the equivalent of 92 miles (147 km) over almost 13 hours, ten of which had been spent in actual cycling. Despite the strong wind on the way home, my average speed would work out to 14.7km hour!
See the Original Write-Up of this ride, made at the time.
[If the narrative seems a bit strained, please remember that the original was accompanied by numerous maps. Since these maps came from commercial sources, they had to be removed from this public version. Feel free to follow along with MapQuest or Google Maps.]
The Chambly Corridor
I had first seen the photo of the spiral bridge in a Route Verte newsletter I had received at home. I then read about it in the 2003-2004 Monteregie Bike Trail guide. I saw that it headed directly from the Hwy 116 crossing, through the countryside, to distant Chambly. The route that I had taken to Chambly back in 1999 was no longer open to me. At that time, I had gone along Route 116, as I had done earlier in 1992 while on my way to Mont St. Bruno. On the 1999 ride, I had gotten caught up in construction and the no-access portion of the freeway had started much sooner than it had before. Now the entire length of Hwy 116 from the Taschereau interchange to past Mont St. Bruno is no-access freeway. The stretch from the Taschereau interchange to the beginning of the frontage road is now closed off to me. This new route looked promising, and far better than my old route, as it would be along a bikes-only right-of-way and through the countryside. See the Composite View of the Chambly Corridor.
|Bike Route to Chambly|
|[See Larger Context]|
07:45: I started out bright and early on a warm, sunny morning. My tires were soft so I headed over to the Ultramar service station on Sherbrooke and topped them up so they were to my liking: Hard as a rock to the touch. Just going those few blocks, I was already over warm and so doffed my windbreaker and leggings and then lathered on sun block; it promised to be a hot day.
I had examined the map and felt my best approach to the Trail Head at the Route 116 crossing would be through Longueuil, and the best way to get to Longueuil seemed to be the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, so I headed across town in that direction via Sherbrooke Street. That early on a holiday, Sherbrooke was nearly deserted. Even the ride across downtown was quite pleasurable, despite the street being torn up and re-channeled by construction. East of downtown, I was struck by the number of new buildings under construction along Sherbrooke Street.
08:30 (0+12=12km; 0+35 = 0h35 riding; 0+10 = 0h10 stops):
I reached the bridge at 8:30, having made quite good time with the wind behind me (12km/(35/60)min=20.5 km/hr). I zoomed down the hill on Papineau and connected with the west-side sidewalk over the Bridge, the sidewalk which had been expanded to allow for cyclist. I only made a couple of quick photo stops as I crossed, but when I reached the section over the Seaway, I saw a ship approaching. I stopped and waited 5 minutes for it to pass directly underneath me. I was quite interesting seeing the large ship from a bird's eye view. Once the ship has passed, I coasted the rest of the way down into Longueuil. The bridge approach left me at a street called Lafayette.
See the Composite View of Jacques-Cartier Bridge Crossings.
|View of Old Port from Jacques Carter Bridge||View of Molson's Brewery from Jacques Cartier Bridge|
|View of Concorde & Victoria Bridges from Jacques Cartier Bridge|
|View of Downtown from Jacques Cartier Bridge|
|Ship approaching in Channel &
South Shore Bike Path
|Ship Passing Below|
|False Start Bike Path|
08:55 (12+4=16km; 35+20 = 0h55 riding; 10+5 = 0h15 stops):
My destination was the trail head of the Chambly Trail at its Route 112 crossing. Getting across Longueuil from where the bridge approach dropped me on Lafayette Street to that point was going to be quite an exercise. The Monteregie Trail Guide was pretty thin on the details of getting across Longueuil. Its directions were hard to follow and I had no "feel" for the layout of Longueuil, where streets seem to me to be running in strange directions.
My first false start was to head down Lafayette, under the Taschereau Freeway and away from the river. As soon as I stopped on the far side and consulted my map, I could see this was wrong. I had to retrace my route and find the little road called Chemin Tiffin. A bike path was marked along the side of this street. After a few block the marked path made a left turn and crossed under Taschereau once again. On the far side, this bike trail entered its own right-of-way down the park-like median of a tree-lined residential boulevard. I followed Boulevard Desaulniers a couple of blocks before I realized I had made yet another false start. Once more, I had to retrac my route and continued further along Chemin Tiffin.
Soon I had crossed into old LeMoyne and Chemin Tiffin took on the air of a real old country road. As I passed by Rue St. Thomas, I had a hunch and stopped. Sure enough, this would be the road to take. I crossed under Taschereau for the third time and found myself on Boulevard Curé Poirier. My destination was Boulevard Jacques-Cartier and the city map showed me that I could get to this by taking Curé Poirier to Rue Ste. Hélène, which I did. Along the way, I met another cyclist who was also heading towards the same point.
I passed by an old man-hole cover still inscribed with the name Cité de Jacques Cartier. I should have taken a photo, for it was a relic of the larger section of today's Longueuil, which had been gobbled up by the smaller just about the time I arrived here in 1969. Finally, at the foot of Rue Ste. Hélène, I encountered a protected bike trail that led through a park and brought me out to the access point for the Trail Head.
|Bike Path along Jacques-Cartier Boulevard|
09:30 (16+6=22km; 0h55+35 = 1h30 riding; 15+0 = 0h15 stops):
South Shore streets are such a maze to me. They seem to go every which way. It took me 35 minutes to go the 6 kilometres across Longueuil!
I would not come this way again. Following discoveries made upon my return, I would cross over via the St. Lambert Locks (Open 06:30 - 22:00) and would reach the Taschereau interchange via Boulevard Sir Wilfred Laurier and Rue St. Louis. I would then cut over on Rue St. Georges, Rue Montcalm, and La Grande Allée to Boul. Edouard, which would bring me to the Trail Head (and to the old Frontage Road, if I were headed for Mont. St. Bruno) This route would cut 6km and half an hour from my trip to Chambly. (Indeed, such is the route I would take later in the Summer, on my way to Sherbrooke.)
At the Hwy 116 crossing is the new bicycle viaduct that Vélo Québec and La Route Verte are so proud of. Cyclist reach the top by riding up and around a spiral with 5 levels. The flat portion brings one over the rail yards, where I stopped to take some photos. I recalled when I had cycled out along the shoulder of the old Route 116, before it became a freeway. On the far side, the descent was straight.
See the Composite View of the Chambly Corridor.
|Spiral Bicycle Bridge over Route 116||Approaching the Spiral|
|Route 116 - Looking towards City||South Shore Rail Yards - Looking Eastward|
|South Shore Rail Yards - Looking Eastward||Route 116 - Looking Eastward|
09:40 (22+0=22km; 1h30+5 = 1h35 riding; 15+5 = 0h20 stops):
Stretching ahead on the far side of the crossing, for as far as one could see, was a wide green swath. A railroad track occupied one side, with a gravel bike trail heading up the middle, and all covered by huge power lines. This swath cut straight-as-an-arrow through the factories and residential neighbourhoods. There were quite a number of other cyclist out on this trail, the beginning of the Bike Trail to Chambly.
|Down the Bridge and Corridor to Chambly|
10:00 (1h30+20 = 1h55 riding; 20+0 = 0h20 stops):
I came to a split in the Trail, with one side heading off towards Brossard. A sign indicated that Chambly was 12km distant, while Brossard was 2 km away. Past this point, the greenway ended and the railroad track was sandwiched between two streets: Boulevard Maricourt and Boulevard Kimber. After a cross-over at Montée Saint-Hubert, the bike trail ran along the side of Boulevard Kimber.
|Chambly Corridor: Crossing over to left side of tracks|
|Chambly Corridor: Fenced off section of tracks|
10:05: The next change occured just past the crossing of Boulevard Gaetan-Boucher. There was a wye in the track, with the new, shiny and well-maintained tracks heading off to the right while the older, less groomed tracks continued in along in the direction of the bike path. This CN junction was named "Castle Gardens", according to the sign.
For a space the Bike Trail left the trackside, entering its own right-of-way through a city park. A huge mound of freshly churned earth (Soon to sprout condos, no doubt!) separated the trail from all sight of the tracks. The trail came out at the head of an artificial lake in "Parc de la cité" of St. Hubert.
|Chambly Corridor: Lake in City Park|
Once past the park, I was out into suburban streets, where the trail was a painted lane. I followed the marked trail back to the tracks, but it crossed them and headed on westward. Since this did not seem right, I turned left and rode along Boulevard Maricourt as it went alongside the tracks. Soon I noticed cyclist on the other side, riding along a bike path. I do not know how I could have missed it. I crossed back over to the other side and joined the protected right-of-way. It ran along a grassy lane to the left of Boulevard Kimber, between it and the backs of the houses.
Soon I saw on the far side that Boulevard Maricourt was blocked off. A vast section of forest on the far side was being chopped up with new streets and would soon become a new development.
10:20 (1h55+20 = 2h15 riding; 20+0 = 0h20 stops):
The Trail crossed under the Hwy 30. On the far side was finally farmland! I could see Mont St. Bruno looming to the east and was standing under the very same power lines as I remembered from my ride there. I could imgagine, off in the distance, the roads I had taken on earlier bike rides, in 1992 and 1999. Up ahead I would passed a small, forgotten residential enclave on my left side. To my right was the solitary railroad track. Beyond the track was nothing but bush.
|Chambly Corridor: Into the Country at Last!|
|Chambly Corridor: Looking back towards the 30||Chambly Corridor: Looking forward at 30 Crossing|
At the far end of the six-block residential area, the road ended and the trail entered the woods. There would be nothing but the bike trail and the railroad track. Before entering that section, I stopped to notice how a levee protected the residences from what must be the Spring floods that come every year.
|Chambly Corridor: The Trail on its own right-of-way|
The woodland passage of the trail was interrupted a couple of times by the ends of long streets that turned around in a U pattern. These were lined with old-time country residences.
I crossed into the town of Carignan.
I came upon the forced cutting of what would be a new street someday. The trees were cut down and the earth bull-dozed clear, but certainly not flat or passable. Sewer and fire hydrants were in, but nothing else.
Soon thereafter, I was back into old, country-style suburbia: Older houses on large, open tracts of land. The trail ran alongside the back yards of the houses on a street to the right, with an open field, frequented by dirt bikes on the left. Then this section came to an end and there were houses along both sides.
|Chambly Corridor: Entering Carignan|
|Chambly Corridor: New Street being pushed through Woods|
10:50 (2h15+30 = 2h45 riding; 20+0 = 0h20 stops):
I came out at Chemin Bellerive, a small country road which runs alongside the tiny Rivière L'Acadie that separates the countryside of Carignan with the built-up streets of Chambly. The main road and bridge were a few blocks east, but a bicycle bridge had been provided as part of the Trail. There was a small 'halte' right at the bridge, which then brought me into the back streets of Chambly. I nosed my way forward to the main street, where I settle into a Tim Horton's for coffee and a snack.
11:00 (22+19=41km; 2h45+5 = 2h50 riding; 20+5 = 0h25 stops)
It has taken me 1h20 to ride the 19km of the trail from Longueuil to Chambly. I was facing a headwind all of the way, so I only made (19km/1.3=14.5 km/hr).
While I was having my coffee and whole-wheat bagle and butter, two girls, who were also cyclists and had ridden in from La Prairie, asked me about the map I was reading. I showed them the Monteregie Bike Trail Map and told them about some of the trails in the area, most notably the trail along the Chambly Canal. They seemed quite interested.
11:20 (2h50+0 = 2h50 riding; 25+20 = 0h40 stops)
I finished my snack and mounted up to head through the back streets of Old Chambly to the shoreline of the Chambly Basin. There was a marked bike trail along Rue Martel, which finally descended and ran along the shoreline itself, behind the buildings, until just before the entrance to the Chambly Canal.
I had seen the Canal Locks area before (1999, 2002: See South Shore Rides), so rode right on on by and came soon to the entrance to the park surrounding Fort Chambly. I had never visited Fort Chambly before. Although I did not go inside the fort itself, I rode all around the grounds. The old fort was set in a beautiful setting, on a point separating the vast Chambly Basin, dotted with sailboats, and the rapids of the Richelieu River.
|Mont Ste. Hilaire behind Lake at Chambly||Chambly: View of Lake and Fort|
|View of Chambly Town from Fort|
|Richelieu Rapids at Fort Chambly|
11:45 (2h50+15 = 3h05 riding; 0h40+10 = 0h50 stops)
By 11:45, I was done exploring the grounds of the fort and reading all the information plaques. I rode out of the far end of the park and onto a small, quiet side street which ran alongside the rapids. Very soon I cae upon yet another park, called Parc des rapides. It stretched along the shore, just below a low dam cutting all the way across the river. The dam exhibited the most marvellous water flow: Water slid over the fifteen foot drop like a silky curtain and then erupted in a ten foot band of boiling white water. I was at the dam by 11:50 and stopped for fifteen minutes, during which time I got some photos, changed my film, called Sheryl for my Noon check-in, and walked along the rocky shore of the rapids.
|Richelieu Rapids below Chambly Dam|
|Chambly Dam on the Richelieu||Alongside the Chambly Dam|
|Alongside the Chambly Dam|
|Along the water below the Dam|
|View downriver from Bridge|
12:15 (41+7=48km; 3h05+15=3h20 riding; 0h50+15=1h05 stops)
By 12:15 I was at the far side of the dam, looking back on the spot where I had stood fifteen minutes earlier. When I had left the dam area, it had been a short ride along the quiet sidestreet before I re-joined the main road, which led across the only bridge, connecting Chambly, on the one side of the Richelieu River, with the town of Richelieu, on the other. A sidwalk crossing for cyclist had been provided for cyclists. Another small road had followed back along the shoreline of the far side. Within the Town of Richelieu it was called 1re Avenue, but when it crossed into the next town of St. Mathias it was called Chemin Richelieu. All along the road were interesting spots to see the rapids, along which the water fell in different, uneven layers: Sometimes one side of the river was higher than the other and there were sideways falls between the two halves.
|Chambly Dam from far side|
|Richelieu Rapids below Dam|
|View of Lake from Route 133|
Eventually, the small road came out at the main highway. Route 133 runs along the eastern shore of the Richelieu River, all the way to Sorel. Before leaving the built-up section of town, I stopped at a small depanneur to buy a couple of bottles of water. I bought a small one (600 ml) with a drinking nozzle and a larger one (1.5 litre) to put into my pannier. These would supplement the small drinking bottle I had filled up at home. I was thirsty and had to resist the urge to guzzle the wbole bottle of ice cold water, which would have given me an instant stomach ache.
12:40 (3h20+20=3h40 riding; 1h05+5=1h10 stops):
The built-up section of town gave way to open farmland to my right, the inland side, and a string of riverfront homes in tree-covered lots to my left, the river side. Through the open farmland loomed the ever-approaching hulk of Mont Ste. Hilaire, while further away I could see the purple outline of Rougemont.
My immediate destination was Mont Ste. Hilaire, but I knew I would have an hour or so of extra time before having to head home. I could either head east towards Rougemont or continue down past Mont Ste. Hilaire along the Richelieu. At length, I decided to leave Rougemont for another day. The wind was behind me and pushing very strongly. I could see the grass in the fields blown over and saw the leaves in the trees being pushed over.
The Chambly Basin to my left narrowed and closed in until it was once again just the wide Richelieu River. There was a lot of river traffic, as pleasure craft navigated up and down the river.
|Town of Saint-Mathias||Old Stone House|
|North along Route 133||Approaching Mont Ste. Hilaire along Route 133|
|Mont Ste. Hilaire Approaches||Looking East to Rougemont|
|Entering Otterburn Park|
|Through Otterburn Park|
13:00 (3h40+20=4h00 riding; 1h10+0=1h10 stops):
At 13:00 I passed a vast marina. Boats were docked along several floating docks, while on the landward side was a huge factory and warehouse complex. Among their talents were listed "fibreglass", so I imagine they must build boats there as well. Barely five minutes later, I came to the town line of Otterburn Park. The nice, wide and paved shoulder that I had been enjoying came to an abrupt halt and I was left hugging the narrow white line at the edge of the pavement. A road sign indicated I was now 58km from Sorel. (Soon after I had joined Route 133, I had passed a sign indicating Sorel to be 64km away). If not for having to return home that same day, I could easily have made it to Sorel.
13:15 (4h00+15=4h15 riding; 1h10+0=1h10 stops):
I watched with awe as a cyclist ahead of me suddenly darted across the highway without warning. I wondered what had happened. I soon found that he had ducked into a nicely groomed waterfront 'halte' that had been set up by the town of Otterburn Park. A wooden viewing stand provided spectacular views up and down river. The CN Rail Bridge was not too far downriver. I relaxed for about 5 minutes.
|Richelieu Rail Bridge|
13:30 (48+21=69km; 4h15+10=4h25 riding; 1h10+5=1h15 stops):
I reached my distination of Mont Ste. Hilaire. Back in 1992, I had looked longingly across the stretch of flatland separating Mont St. Bruno and Mont Ste. Hilaire, and had thought I should cycle on to the further mountain soon. Now, 14 years later, I had finally done so. I had covered the 21km from the bridge at Chambly/Richelieu to Mont Ste. Hilaire in roughly an hour and ten minutes (13:30-12:10), for an average speed of (21km/(70/60)min=~18 km/hr). Such was the force of the tailwind.
The road along the river passed far below the main section of town, and there were few connections between the two. The riverfront road passed underneath first the railroad line and then under the Route 116 highway, coming off the bridge from Beloiel. Few of the streets from the riverside section went through to upper town. Studying my map, I found one: Rue Ste. Anne. It climbed up from the riverfront alongside the old town church. Across the river was the analogous church of the west bank town of Beloeil.
|Beloeil Marina from Mont Ste. Hilaire Shore|
|Highway Bridge over Richelieu|
|Church on Beloeil Shore|
|Watercraft on the Richelieu||Beloeil Marina from Mont Ste. Hilaire Shore|
|Richelieu River at Mont Ste. Hilaire: Upriver||Richelieu River at Mont Ste. Hilaire: Downriver|
Rue Ste. Anne was a steep climb, but I took it slow. It brought me into the heart of the new section of town, built alongside the main highway. Route 116 had expanded into a wide urban boulevard lined with shopping plazas and new condo developments. The condos and homes were built right up against the cliffs of the mountain. Through my field glasses I could see people looking out from the stone outcrop at the 'Sugarbush' peak of the park, where I had often climbed. I stopped into the pharmacy to buy some film, as I was afraid I might run out.
Sainte-Hilare: Pharmaprix, film, $??
|Mont Ste. Hilaire from Town|
Then I rode north along the main highway. My goal was to see the new Mont Ste. Hilaire commuter train station, which was located in the upper level of town. I figured that from there I would be able to descend once more to the river.
After negotiating an almost freeway-like interchange, I did find the train station, just outside of town.
|Mont Ste. Hilaire Train Station|
Armed with my map, I was then able to locate the sole, almost hidden street, the only one in the whole northern part of town that went all the way through to the river. I was able to coast down the steep hill through the new housing development at breakneck speed, only having to apply my brakes at the very end. I was happy to be once more on Route 133 and riding alongside the water. When I reached the point where the riverside highway passed under the bridge of the main Hwy 20 road to Quebec City, I encountered a small settlement of fast food restaurants and gas stations. I decided I was hungry and zipped into La Belle Province to buy a hot dog and some fries. Since I was now running late, I did not want to take the time to stop and eat. I stuffed the hot french fries into my panier and gobbled the hot dog as I rode across the street to the tourist information kiosk. The two girls were were working there laughed at my trying to talk to them with my mouth full of hot dog and mustard dripping down my chin, as I picked up some of this year's latest cycling maps and brochures. I double-checked with them that I would find a ferry downriver, as my map seemed to indicate.
14:30 (4h25+30=4h55 riding; 1h15+30=1h45 stops):
I had spent a lot more time in Mont Ste. Hilaire than I had intended. The extra hour that I once had had dwindled to only half an hour. I figured that by 15:00, I should be heading back. Still, the call of the lower river was pulling me. I decided that I would go for broke and descend the river to the next town, Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, 15 km away.
The river road, Chemin des Patriotes, was much more scenic and pleasant north of Mont Ste. Hilaire than it had been to the south. On the landward side, the farmlands now stretched out into rolling hills of green, rather than being absolutely flat. The river was much more interesting and the houses separating me from it were smaller and spaced further apart, giving me much better views than I had had on my way to Mont Ste. Hilaire.
The tailwind had grown quite strong. For a while I was riding on the flat with the chain on my largest front sprocket and my smallest back one. I almost never can use my largest front sprocket except when speeding down steep hills. I reached the next town in half an hour, which means that I must have been averaging 30km an hour! Although it felt like I was flying, I became ever more worried about how I was going to get home in the face of such a wind.
When 15:00 came, and it was time to call Sheryl, I ducked down a steep driveway, which would have led right into the river had I not braked hard at the bottom. I guess in the Winter time, it was an access road to fishing cabins out on the ice. On the far side of the river was this most interesting old ship. It looked like it had once been a ferry, but it was now tied up to the dock. I can't imagine how they ever got it so far upriver.
I was at the limit of my cell phone's range. It took ages to "register", and then the display said "Emergency Calls Only". I was able to call home, but we had a very hard time communicating. I would call Sheryl back fifteen minutes later, from the ferry dock, where the reception would not be quite so bad.
|Barge along the Richelieu at Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu|
|Town of Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu|
I let the wind push me on and, despite a short stop by the town's church, I reached the dock of the small ferry by 15:15. This ferry ran across the river on a cable and had room for only about two cars. I was on the far side when I arrived, so I had a chance to fish out the fries I had stashed and wolf some down. I scanned up and down the river with my field glasses and took in all the small boats.15:15 (69+16=85km; 4h55+40=5h35 riding; 1h45+5=1h50 stops):
|Ferry Crossing at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu|
|Leaving the Ferry Dock|
|Richelieu River: View Upriver from Ferry||Richelieu River: View Downriver from Ferry|
|Approaching Saint-Marc Side|
|Ferry Boat at Dock|
|View of Saint-Charles from far side|
The road on the far side (the west side) was much quieter than the one I had been following. It was also more pleasant because it ran right alongside the river, not separated from the shore by any layer of intervening houses and properties. As I had fear, though, the headwind was very tough. Within a few minutes, I had beat my way back upriver to the town of Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, companion to Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu on the far side. This was a quaint little tree-lined town, hugging the river and sporting a number of rustic B&Bs. There was a small waterfront park with a wooden gazebo where I paused to eat some more fries and to get my last look at the river. I would be on my way by 15:45
|Quiet Road along Richelieu West Shore|
15:45 (5h35+10=5h45 riding; 1h50+20=2h10 stops):
I had studied the map carefully to find the best way home. I realized that, as much as I would have liked to have returned via the riverside, the strong headwing made such a route impossible. Just the couple of kilometres from the ferry to the town had shown me that river's edge offered no shelter whatsoever from the relentless wind. I toyed with the idea of cutting over to the St. Lawrence, but no roads led straight across. They all angled downriver. The road from St. Marc, for example, ended up in Verchères. These would lead me too far out of my way.
I did see one promising road on the map, however. It began just outside of the town where I was and made a diagonal approach to the back side of Longueuil, passing through the town of St. Amable. I had never been on this road, but the lay of the land told me that it passed along the top of a ridge just to the west. Besides representing the shortest route distance-wise, the ridge offered the possibility of trees, which might shelter me from the wind somewhat.
I set out, thus, at 15:45, for the long road home. I knew I had a long, hard ride ahead of me in the face of such a strong wind. The first few minutes, along Route Verchères, was actually quite easy, for the wind was still behind me. Almost immediately I left behind all sign of the river and was out in the open farmland. A long, low and forested ridge spread out ahead of me, but I saw that the road I was on would pass by its northern end.
16:00 (5h45+15=6h00 riding; 2h10+0=2h10 stops):
At 16:00, I came to the intersection of Rang des Soixante, the beginning of my route home. As soon as I made the right turn, I was caught up once again in the strong headwind. Not too far along, however, the road began to climb and I passed behind the flank of the ridge, which cut down the wind substantially. The climb was not too bad, it soon levelled off and ran straight again, lined on both sides by trees. The trees seemed to offer less and less protection from the wind, though, as it was howling right down the cut-away and straight towards me. I had no choice but to slog on. A sign indicated that St. Amable was 10km ahead.
|Approach to Rang des Soixante (Taken Later)|
16:30 (85+15=100km; 5h35+30=6h05 riding; 1h45+5=1h50 stops):
I reached the centre of the town of St. Amable, which was a long, drawn out town that stretched along the highway. As soon as I had crossed the town line, Rang des Soixante had become Rue Principale. I came upon a point where I had to negociate a three-block road closing. I had no energy left to go off the road to follow the marked detour, so I joined several cars in riding on through the heavy gravel of the construction site. St. Amable was busy re-building its main street. Just before reaching the closure, I had been treated to at least a dozen blocks of newly paved surface.
17:15 (6h05+45=6h50 riding; 2h10+0=2h10 stops):
I crossed into the town limits of Ste. Julie and the road changed names again, now being called Chemin de Touraine. I briefly saw the main part of Ste. Julie, down in the valley, and then the road curved over to the far side of the ridge and began its descent. I could see Mont Ste. Hilaire, with which I was almost even; it seemed very distant. Much closer, and at about 10:00 to my line of riding, was Mont St. Bruno. I would be passing to the Montreal side of it.
At 17:15, I came to a major crossroads: Montée Ste. Julie, or Route 229. To the left, it climbed back up to the top of the ridge I had just left, now to my east, and headed towards the central part of Ste. Julie on the far side. To the right, it angled downriver to Varennes. I could see new housing developments along the top of the ridge in the Ste. Julie direction. I pressed on ahead and very soon crossed over the Hwy 30 freeway.
|View of Ste. Julie Town Centre - With Mont St. Bruno in background|
|Ste. Julie: Chemin de Touraine descends to the plain|
|Crossing the 30: Mont St. Bruno close by|
17:30 (6h50+30=7h20 riding; 2h10+0=2h10 stops):
As I came to the crossing of Chemin de Montbrun at 17:30, I was able to finally see the Hwy 20 freeway off in the distance ahead. I knew that once I had crossed this, I would feel much closer to home psychologically. I was still well out in the country. To my right was a thick wall of forest while to my left lay open fields that spread out as they angled gently into the valley. The low hulk of Mont St. Bruno loomed along the far side of the valley, behind the ever-approaching Hwy 20. The relentless wind continued to batter me, as I moved slowly forward in my easiest gear.
17:50 (100+15=115km; 7h20+20=7h40 riding; 2h10+0=2h10 stops):
Things happened fairly quickly once I finally reached civilization. The country road turned the corner of the forest and opened up into a land of new shopping malls, half-completed alongside the Hwy 20 freeway. The road grew immediately from two lanes to four, with a median to divide them. Since it was a holiday, the whole vast city of big box stores was deserted, save for the MacDonald's, which had a few cars.
I came around to Boulevard de Montarville and almost headed off in the wrong direction. I soon sensed something was wrong and stopped to consult my map. It was here that I would pass underneath Hwy 20 to the homeward side. I crossed under the 20 at 17:50.
I had thought I would be entering Longueuil immediately after crossing the highway, but this was not how it was. I was still in Boucherville. I guess Hwy 20 only forms the boundary at the St. Lawrence, where I have typically passed between the two towns. On the far side of the highway, I came to a "T" intersection where Boulevard de Montarville headed off to the left towards Mont St. Bruno and the road to the right was called Chemin de Tremblay. I was riding through a vast industrial park.
At 18:00, I ducked into the shelter from the wind offered by a warehouse building in order to call Sheryl and tell her of my progress. I told her I was just shy of the Longueuil line. She heard how tired I was and asked if she needed to come and pick me up, but I told her I thought I could make it. I guzzled the rest of my auxiliary water bottle and then headed back out into the wind.
Sure enough, within a few blocks I reached the Longueuil town line and the factories gave way immediately to forest on both sides of the road. There was quite a long stretch of forest, which surprised me for I had not expected it. When the trees finally came to an end, I found myself immediately within urban Longueuil, where homes and multi-story apartment buildings lined both sides of the road.
I came out at Boulevard Jacques-Cartier East and turned left to follow this major street homeward. A bike path led along the grassy median to the right side of the busy boulevard and I passed huge hospitals and other civic buildings.
I had still not fully decided by which crossing I should re-enter Montreal: Should I head back up through Longueuil to the Jacques Cartier Bridge or should I cut across to St. Lambert? It seemed a long way out of my way to backtrack to the Jacques Cartier, which would then drop me fairly far east in Montreal. On the other hand, I was unsure exactly how to cut through the almost impenetrable wall formed by the maze of streets between Longueuil and St. Lambert that did not go through. I also was not sure exactly what time the St. Lambert crossing closed for the evening. Finally, I worried about the long ride into the wind I would face at Cité du Havre, on the far side. At length, though, I decided to take my chances with the St. Lambert crossing.
18:30 (7h40+35=8h15 riding; 2h10+5=2h15 stops):
I came at 18:30 to the crossing of Chemin Chambly, a major thoroughfare in Longueuil and the town's dividing line between east and west. I had never imagined Longeueil to be so vast! I spied a Tim Hortons at the corner and decided I would take out some time for a coffee and a snack and some much needed rest. I had been riding nearly non-stop and directly into the wind for hours!
I ordered a coffee and a bagel and sat down inside for 15 minutes to rest. I soon found my mouth to be too dry to eat the bagel, so I packed half of it away in my knapsack and set out on my way.
On the far side of Chemin Chambly, I found myself on Boulevard Jacques-Cartier West and soon came to the very point where I had crossed the spiral bridge half a day earlier: I had closed the circle! I continued on, planning to retrace my convoluted route through the Longueuil streets, up Ste. Hélène and over along Curé Poirier, to cross under Taschereau and meet up with Rue St. Georges in LeMoyne. This seemed to be the only possible route through the maze of freeway and railroad blockages. It appeared on the map like the point where Boulevard Jacques-Cartier met up with Boulevard Taschereau offered no option but to join the freeway.
When I got to Ste. Helene Street, however, I noticed that the bike path alongside Boulevard Jacques Cartier did not stop, but continued further along. I decided to give it a try, for the other route would have taken me well out of my way. To my left, on the far side of the boulevard, were the rail yards and Route 116. Ahead of me, several blocks distant, I could see the bridge of the Taschereau Boulevard overpass. To my right were the walled-off back yards of the suburban houses. I was riding on a gravel path amidst the twenty-foot wide grassy shoulder of the boulevard.
When I got up to the Taschereau overpass, I could see the there was indeed no option except to follow the road around as it curved up as an on-ramp to the highway. No road continued forward from that point. As I passed underneath the overpass, I noticed wooden stairs built to allow pedestrians to climb up to the sidewalk above. Alongside the stairs was a steep path, clearly worn by cyclists. I got off and portaged my bike up the steep embankment. It was all I could do to push the heavy bike a few steps up the 45 degree grade, and then apply the brakes to stop if from flowing back. As I neared the top, I saw another cyclist riding around on the roadway and realized it had not been closed off to cyclists (though by its nature, it seemed as if it should have been). I reached the sidewalk and took a rest in the middle of the bridge, while waiting to catch photos of an approaching passenger train. I was lucky to catch photos of the Ocean, the train to Halifax on which Sheryl and I have ridden several years before.
|Taschereau Crossing: Ocean Train Approaches|
Coming down the far side of the Taschereau Overpass, I was back in familiar territory. It was but a short ride along St. Louis through Ville Le Moyne to the Victoria Avenue crossing (19:15), and then along Sir Wilfred Laurier towards the Victoria Bridge. I cut over to a sidestreet and descended the couple of blocks to the Rue Riverside Bike Trail, alongside the highway. I came out almost at the point where the trail branches off to cross the highway on a bicycle overpass. The bridge was down, so I rode directly over the Locks to the far side before dismounting and giving Sheryl a call at 19:20. I told her where I was and that I was still well over an hour out.
|Victoria Bridge from St. Lambert Locks Approach|
19:20 (115+16=131km; 8h15+30=8h45 riding; 2h15+20=2h35 stops):
I followed my usual and well-worn route across Ile Notre Dame and Ile Ste. Helene, across the Concord Bridge and back up the Mackay Pier (Cité du Havre). The wind on the Montreal side was much less than I had experience along the South Shore.
|Casino on Ile Notre Dame|
|Across Ile Notre Dame|
|Harbour View from Concorde Bridge -1|
|Harbour View from Concorde Bridge -2|
19:50 (131+7=138km; 8h45+30=9h15 riding; 2h35+0=2h35 stops):<br> I reached the trail head of the Lachine Canal at 19:50. From there I started to follow my usual route home. I cut over to the street at Atwater, thought, to protect me from the wind. Amazingly, I still had some energy left to climb the hill on St. Jacques, and then was labouring windward along the DeMaisonneuve Trail. My legs were toast by then, but I took it easy.
|Lachine Canal: Near Canada Post Plant|
|St. Henri: Tiny Home at Rail Crossing|
20:30 (138+9=147km; 9h15+40=9h55 riding; 2h35+0=2h35 stops):
I reached home at 20:30. There was almost no wind in the trees in NDG. It took me almost 15 minutes to unpack and put away all my bike stuff. Sheryl was waiting for me when I came in, with a big bowl of spaghetti and pesto. Then I took a bath and relaxed for some late night TV watching.
The next day, my knees did not protest too much. I guess I had taken sufficient care of them.
I covered 147 Kilometres (92 miles) in total, as measured from the maps using the map wheel, over period of 12h45 (07:45 - 20:30), including stops.
|12||Home to Bridge along Sherbrooke|
|4||Across the Jacques Cartier|
|6||Across Longueuil to Trailhead|
|19||Bike Trail Longueuil to Chambly|
|21||Chambly to Mont Ste. Hilaire|
|16||Mont Ste. Hilaire to Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu|
|15||Saint-Charles-sur_Richelieu to St. Amable|
|15||St. Amable to the Highway 20 crossing|
|16||Highway 20 crossing to St. Lambert Locks|
|7||Across St. Lawrence by Locks - To Lachine Canal Trailhead|
|9||Lachine Canal Trailhead to Home|